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Module: Selection of the Research Paradigm and Methodology

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❶But those models and theories themselves exist within a larger theoretical framework.

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It is the latter that is responsible for the eventual revolutionary overthrow of the incumbent paradigm, and its replacement by a new one. Kuhn used the expression paradigm shift see below for this process, and likened it to the perceptual change that occurs when our interpretation of an ambiguous image "flips over" from one state to another. This is significant in relation to the issue of incommensurability see below.

An example of a currently accepted paradigm would be the standard model of physics. The scientific method allows for orthodox scientific investigations into phenomena that might contradict or disprove the standard model; however grant funding would be proportionately more difficult to obtain for such experiments, depending on the degree of deviation from the accepted standard model theory the experiment would test for.

To illustrate the point, an experiment to test for the mass of neutrinos or the decay of protons small departures from the model is more likely to receive money than experiments that look for the violation of the conservation of momentum, or ways to engineer reverse time travel. Mechanisms similar to the original Kuhnian paradigm have been invoked in various disciplines other than the philosophy of science. They have somewhat similar meanings that apply to smaller and larger scale examples of disciplined thought.

In addition, Michel Foucault used the terms episteme and discourse , mathesis and taxinomia , for aspects of a "paradigm" in Kuhn's original sense. In The Structure of Scientific Revolutions , Kuhn wrote that "the successive transition from one paradigm to another via revolution is the usual developmental pattern of mature science" p. Paradigm shifts tend to appear in response to the accumulation of critical anomalies as well as the proposal of a new theory with the power to encompass both older relevant data and explain relevant anomalies.

New paradigms tend to be most dramatic in sciences that appear to be stable and mature, as in physics at the end of the 19th century. At that time, a statement generally attributed to physicist Lord Kelvin famously claimed, "There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now. All that remains is more and more precise measurement. In this case, the new paradigm reduces the old to a special case in the sense that Newtonian mechanics is still a good model for approximation for speeds that are slow compared to the speed of light.

Many philosophers and historians of science, including Kuhn himself, ultimately accepted a modified version of Kuhn's model, which synthesizes his original view with the gradualist model that preceded it.

Kuhn's original model is now generally seen as too limited [ citation needed ]. Kuhn's idea was, itself, revolutionary in its time. It caused a major change in the way that academics talk about science; and, so, it may be that it caused or was part of a "paradigm shift" in the history and sociology of science. However, Kuhn would not recognize such a paradigm shift. Being in the social sciences, people can still use earlier ideas to discuss the history of science.

Perhaps the greatest barrier to a paradigm shift, in some cases, is the reality of paradigm paralysis: Examples include rejection of Aristarchus of Samos' , Copernicus ', and Galileo 's theory of a heliocentric solar system, the discovery of electrostatic photography , xerography and the quartz clock.

Kuhn pointed out that it could be difficult to assess whether a particular paradigm shift had actually led to progress, in the sense of explaining more facts, explaining more important facts, or providing better explanations, because the understanding of "more important", "better", etc. The two versions of reality are thus incommensurable. Kuhn's version of incommensurability has an important psychological dimension; this is apparent from his analogy between a paradigm shift and the flip-over involved in some optical illusions.

He suggested that it was impossible to make the comparison needed to judge which body of knowledge was better or more advanced.

However, this change in research style and paradigm eventually after more than a century led to a theory of atomic structure that accounts well for the bulk properties of matter; see, for example, Brady's General Chemistry. This apparent ability does not guarantee that the account is veridical at any one time, of course, and most modern philosophers of science are fallibilists. However, members of other disciplines do see the issue of incommensurability as a much greater obstacle to evaluations of "progress"; see, for example, Martin Slattery's Key Ideas in Sociology.

Opaque Kuhnian paradigms and paradigm shifts do exist. A few years after the discovery of the mirror-neurons that provide a hard-wired basis for the human capacity for empathy, the scientists involved were unable to identify the incidents that had directed their attention to the issue.

Over the course of the investigation, their language and metaphors had changed so that they themselves could no longer interpret all of their own earlier laboratory notes and records. However, many instances exist in which change in a discipline's core model of reality has happened in a more evolutionary manner, with individual scientists exploring the usefulness of alternatives in a way that would not be possible if they were constrained by a paradigm.

Imre Lakatos suggested as an alternative to Kuhn's formulation that scientists actually work within research programmes. This set of priorities, and the associated set of preferred techniques, is the positive heuristic of a programme.

Each programme also has a negative heuristic ; this consists of a set of fundamental assumptions that — temporarily, at least — takes priority over observational evidence when the two appear to conflict.

This latter aspect of research programmes is inherited from Kuhn's work on paradigms, [ citation needed ] and represents an important departure from the elementary account of how science works. According to this, science proceeds through repeated cycles of observation, induction, hypothesis-testing, etc. Paradigms and research programmes allow anomalies to be set aside, where there is reason to believe that they arise from incomplete knowledge about either the substantive topic, or some aspect of the theories implicitly used in making observations.

Larry Laudan [29] has also made two important contributions to the debate. Laudan believed that something akin to paradigms exist in the social sciences Kuhn had contested this, see below ; he referred to these as research traditions. Laudan noted that some anomalies become "dormant", if they survive a long period during which no competing alternative has shown itself capable of resolving the anomaly.

He also presented cases in which a dominant paradigm had withered away because its lost credibility when viewed against changes in the wider intellectual milieu. Kuhn himself did not consider the concept of paradigm as appropriate for the social sciences.

He explains in his preface to The Structure of Scientific Revolutions that he developed the concept of paradigm precisely to distinguish the social from the natural sciences. While visiting the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences in and , surrounded by social scientists, he observed that they were never in agreement about the nature of legitimate scientific problems and methods.

He explains that he wrote this book precisely to show that there can never be any paradigms in the social sciences. Mattei Dogan , a French sociologist, in his article "Paradigms in the Social Sciences," develops Kuhn's original thesis that there are no paradigms at all in the social sciences since the concepts are polysemic , involving the deliberate mutual ignorance between scholars and the proliferation of schools in these disciplines.

Working with your supervisor. What happens to your research? References and further reading. Time to spend on this section: Having read about the concepts paradigm, epistemology, ontology and methodology you will begin to see how our view of the knowledge and the world affects how we plan and carry out research.

You may have noticed that different disciplines have a different view of how research should be conducted. It is important to know how your discipline carries out research, and you may even want to challenge this. Below are a few examples: Post -Positivism - e. Critical Theory - e. Critical theory AND Constructivism - e. Then click on the 'Feedback button' to see how you score. Disciplines tend to be governed by particular paradigms, such as: This is sometimes referred to as interpretivism.

Ontology is what exists and is a view on the nature of reality. Some examples of such methods are: Since that time a debate between scientists regarding the best paradigm to conduct the research has always been there. Until s scientists believed that quantitative research paradigm is the only paradigm or research approach that should be used in both pure science and social science research.

Most of the scientific or quantitative research use positivism as a conceptual framework for research. Quantitative research always follows positivist approach because positivists believe in the empirical hypothesis testing. In pure sciences, positivism is preferred because of its empirical nature to study facts. Positivists believe that the findings of one study can be generalized to another study of a similar kind regardless of it is conducted in a different environment and situations.

This is true of scientific variables like volume, speed, density, strength, and weight. For example, if a scientific study proves the hypothesis that if a certain finish is applied to a fine cotton tulle fabric it will lose some of its natural strength, these results can be generalized to another similar fabric that gets the same after-finish.

When talking about social and behavioral sciences quantitative researchers believe that any human behavior can be studied and predicted quantitatively and they believe that behavior can be explained using a scientific approach to research.

To achieve a controlled environment the researcher has to conduct the research in a laboratory setting like a scientific experiment, though the human behavior is difficult to study in a controlled environment, this makes it difficult for the social science researcher to use a positivist paradigm in the study of human behavior. Interpretivists believe that human behavior is multilayered and it cannot be determined by pre-defined probabilistic models.


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Definition. A research paradigm is an approach or a research model to conducting a research that has been verified by the research community for long and that has been in practice for hundreds of years.

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The most quoted definition of paradigm is Thomas Kuhn's (, ) concept in The Nature of Science Revolution, i.e. paradigm as the underlying assumptions and intellectual structure upon which research and development in a field of inquiry is based. What is the difference between research paradigm and research approach? Can a research be: a qualitative research with post-positivistic paradigm and exploratory in nature? Research paradigm.

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A scientific paradigm is a framework containing all the commonly accepted views about a subject, conventions about what direction research should take . What is your paradigm? Time to spend on this section: hours Across disciplines (and within) there are varying views of what research is and how this relates to the kind of knowledge being developed.